Finland’s State Visit to Sweden
On Tuesday, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and his wife, Jenni Haukio, made their state visit to neighboring Sweden. The purpose of their visit is to strengthen links between the two countries. Not that they need much strengthening – Finland and Sweden have had close, friendly relations for many years.
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Arriving at Arlanda airport, the Presidential couple were welcomed by Prince Daniel. They then went to the Royal Mews, where they met with Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. The four couples traveled to the palace in a horse and carriage procession.
After the official welcoming ceremony at the palace, President Niinistö and First Lady Jenni Haukio went inside where they met Crown Princess Victoria. The Finnish couple and their Swedish hosts then posed for the media.
Then it was time to get down to business. Lunch was served at the palace, and afterward, Niinistö went to Swedish Parliament where he met with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. He later gave a speech at the Stockholm School Colleges where he talked about the subject of “Northern European Perspectives”.
While that was happening, Queen Silvia took Jenni Haukio to the the Museum of Modern Art to see the exhibition Parallel worlds of Eija-Liisa Ahtila. It was right after their visit that the place was the scene of a bomb scare. The museum has been a center of controversy over a cake in the shape of a black woman, which offended the Afro Swedes’ Association.
In the evening, there will be a state gala for the Finnish couple. The King and Queen will attend as will Prince Daniel.
For tomorrow, Sauli Niinistö and his wife will tour Swedish institutions such as Karolinska Institute, the Sweden Finnish school and Stockholm’s Finland Institute. They will return to their country at the end of the day.
Niinistö is Finland’s 12th president who came to office on March 1st.
Sources: Kungahuset, Expressen
Victoria & Daniel Tour Finnish City of Turku
On Monday, the Crown Princess of Sweden and her husband began a two day tour of the current European Capital of Culture, Turku in Finland. This was their first visit to Turku, a medieval city located on the southwest coast of the country.
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Victoria and Daniel arrived in the city aboard the vessel, Tre Kronor just before 11am local time. But they did not sail from Stockholm to Turku that way. Instead, Their Royal Highnesses met the ship halfway through their travel to the city. The Tre Kronor is the same ship Victoria set sail during the sea seminar she attended last week.
Once on land, Victoria and Daniel were welcomed by large crowds and by the officials of Turku, including mayor Aleksi Randell.
Their first act there was to unveil a plaque with their names on it for the conservation of the Baltic Sea, in front of Forum Marinum. The Crown Princess also received a fibreglass seal sculpture from the HejHylje! charity project.
Afterward, the royal couple went to the Baltic Sea Living Room function which was organized by the The Baltic Sea Action Group. There, they discussed with school children on ways to preserve the Baltic Sea. Both Victoria and Daniel were impressed by the knowledge some of the children had about the topic.
For the rest of Monday, the two toured Turku’s art museum and Turku Castle. In the evening, there was a reception at the Castle.
On Tuesday, Victoria and Daniel took part in a debate at Åbo Akademi University and the topic there was about Swedish-Finnish relations. They also visited an art exhibition at the Logomo and Turku’s main library.
By late afternoon, the couple had completed their tour and flew back to Stockholm.
To check out more photos of the visit, click here and here
Sources: The Royal Forums, Turku.fi,
Victoria & Daniel Stop by Finland
Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel added another place to their growing list of official visits since emerging from their summer honeymoon. This time, they visited neighboring Finland for two days – arriving in Helsinki Monday. Victoria herself has been to the country many times due to Finland’s close Swedish ties.
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On Monday morning, the couple arrived at the presidential palace to meet with Finnish President Tarja Halonen and her husband, Dr. Pentti Arajärvi.
“It feels very nice to have Victoria and Daniel here,” said the President. “We here in Finland love Sweden. And we love you.” Halonen was one of the numerous guests at the couple’s June wedding.
The President then sat down with the royals for some morning coffee with her two cats.
Later, Victoria and Daniel traveled for one hour to the city of Lahti. Thousands of locals greeted the royals with Swedish flags and cheers. While Victoria was greeting the students, one video journalist asked her what she liked most about Finland. She answered by spreading her arms wide and smiling broadly, “you!” meaning, all of the Finnish people.
The Crown Princess also admitted she was caught of guard by how many people turned up to see her and her husband – whom the Swedish media noted was welcomed like a King. However, Victoria added she was touched by the turnout.
When they then went to a local high school, the couple took part with the students in making smoothies by the recipe of a chef from Åland Island. Victoria was a bit nervous participating because of her white dress, but gladly played along.
Even Prince Daniel had fun. Students at the high school reported that he was telling jokes and playfully hogging the bananas from his wife so she wouldn’t get any.
That evening, Victoria and Daniel returned to Helsinki for a dinner with President Halonen. The Crown Princess gave a speech where she said Finland was “almost home” to her.
“It is not strange for me to be in Finland,” she said. ” ‘Almost’ – because of course Finland is an independent and proud of its own
nation to choose its destiny – and who made tremendous sacrifices to win and defend its independence.”
” ‘Home’ – because there is so much that unites and is common in our countries. ‘Home’ because I always met with such warmth and such welcome here in Finland.”
With that, she made a toast.
Tuesday, the newlyweds were welcomed at Helsinki City Hall by Mayor Jussi Pajunen. There, Victoria made another speech – and a gaffe! When she greeted the thousands of people from the City Hall balcony, she said, “Dear Helsingborg people” – which is a town in Sweden!
Laughing, Victoria corrected herself by saying “Dear Helsingfors people” – which is the Swedish word for Helsinki.
After City Hall, she and Prince Daniel went to Happi Youth Center and the opening of a seminar on the future of Finnish-Swedish business at the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Center.
With that, the couple returned to Sweden. They have one more official visit to make before they can get some rest.
Sources: Svensk Damtidning, The Royal Forums, Sweden Abroad
Swedish Royals Commemorate 1809 War
August 19th 2009 marked the last time war was fought on Swedish soil. It was between Sweden and Russia over the territory of Finland, in which the latter won the area.
To commemorate this historic event, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria have been visiting the sites of the war, starting in Ratan, in northern Sweden.
Crowds greeted the royals as they arrived in the town by ship. Once on land, the royals took time to speak to the people. Crown Princess Victoria in particular spoke to many young children. Witnesses noted that she seemed very happy and was eager to talk to people.
Once everything was settled, the royal couple and their eldest daughter watched a reenactment of the Battle of Savar.
Later on, the Swedish royals had dinner with the local governor Chris Heister. When the family posed for pictures, the King was very quick to walk away. That was when Victoria said gently chided him, “Dad! Everyone haven´t got their pictures.” King Carl XVI Gustaf obeyed and returned to have more photos be taken.
The next day, the family moved on to the town of Pitsund, where they arrived by navy ships. King Carl laid a wreath at a memorial.
Later in the day, King Carl, Queen Silvia and Princess Victoria took a helicopter ride to the border town of Tornio in Finland. There, they also saw a reenactment of the war.
There is more to come for the royal couple and the Crown Princess. Next week, they travel to southern Finland.
This year, Sweden and Finland have been commemorating two hundred years since Finland split from the Scandinavian country. Earlier this year, Finnish President Tarja Harlonen had a state visit to Sweden.
Swedish Royal Family Mark Bicentenary of Finnish Separation
The Swedish Royals are overseeing the 200 year celebration of Finland’s secession from Sweden. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Finnish President Tarja Halonen held a gala in Stockholm on Thursday to formally mark the occasion.
The King escorted Halonen to the event, while his wife, Queen Silvia behind them with Finland’s speaker of parliament Sauli Niinisto. Crown Princess Victoria was in attendance, wearing a gown she wore at a Nobel Prize dinner some years before. Her younger sister, Princess Madeleine was also there. Brother Prince Carl Philip was not.
Also in attendance was Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen. Business and cultural representatives of both countries were at the gala too.
“We usually do not celebrate divorces, but today we do,” said Sauli Niinisto during the gala.
It was in the defeat of the war in 1809 that Finland was lost by Sweden and instead became a Russian Grand Duchy. The defeat also was the opening for a Swedish coup d’etat when the military displaced the King Gustav IV Adolf. A new royal house and system of government was installed.
A major turning point for Swedish history indeed, but one guest at the gala noted it does go unnoticed.
“In Finland, a country with a more dramatic history than Sweden, the memory is more alive. In Sweden, the large oblivion prevails”, Horace Engdahl, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, remarked in his oration.
“1809 is an important date in our history, but for most people the year do not ring any bells,” he said according to news agency TT.
For Sweden, the September 1809 peace treaty with Russia meant the loss of a third of its territory and a fourth of the population – a traumatic event.
For Finland, the events of 1809 are more easily remembered since Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire, and was to declare independence in 1917, he said.
“Sweden and Finland before 1809 were not a pair of siblings, but rather Siamese twins,” said Engdahl.
Prior to 1809, Finland and Sweden were in many aspects regarded as one entity for over 600 years, sharing joint administration, legislation and economy, even though the majority of the inhabitants in the eastern part – what is Finland today – spoke Finnish.
Finland still has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish – and some 5-6 per cent of the population of 5.3 million have Swedish as their mother tongue.
Swedish PM Reinfeldt said the year also offered a chance to ‘highlight 200 years of good cooperation, especially in recent years.’
Since 1995, both Nordic neighbours are members of the European Union, and cooperate closely on numerous issues – but compete strongly in sports.
Finnish President Visits Luxembourg
Finland’s president, Tarja Halonen is on a three day visit of Luxembourg. She was invited by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Theresa, and it was the Grand Ducal couple she first met upon arriving in the tiny Grand Duchy.
After the formal meeting, Halonen laid a wreath at the National Solidarity Monument, in the presence of Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s Minister for Defence, Jean-Louis Schiltz, and the Head of Staff of the Luxembourg Army, General Gaston Reinig.
In the afternoon, Halonen was welcomed by Luxembourg city mayor, Paul Helminger, and they visited the Finnish Christmas Market on Place Guillaume.
Later, the Finnish president returned to the Grand Ducal Palace where she met with the President of Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies, Lucien Weiler, as well as Prime Minister Juncker and Deputy Prime-Minister, Jean Asselborn.
The day ended with a gala dinner at the Palace in honor of the President of Finland.